My name is Meagan Scheer and I served as a VISTA from 7/2011 - 7/2012 and then came back in 12/2015 for another round as VISTA Leader.
I am a military brat so I have lived everywhere; however, I spent the better part of my life on and off in Hampton Roads, Virginia. In 2011, I had been working full-time in a pretty toxic work environment for about 3 years and working towards my Associates Degree. I knew there was more out there for me so I applied for a VISTA position in Fairbanks and moved here in 2011 to serve at Love INC of the Tanana Valley. In April of that year, my project ended and I had the opportunity to begin work at Fairbanks Youth Advocates working on an outreach project. In that one year, I developed relationships that will last a lifetime.
After my service was over, I left to use my Ed. award to finish school in Colorado. There I worked another dead-end job (I really like to balance my work experiences) until I graduated and moved back to Virginia. One day I got a phone call from my friend and fellow VISTA co-worker at FYA to let me know she was leaving her position as VISTA leader and that I should apply.
I laughed and laughed. It was 90 degrees in October in Virginia Beach and I was sipping on a frosty PBR while Sarah told me it was snowing in Fairbanks and I should come work for VISTA wages again for another year.
Well, long story short, I applied and came back as Fairbanks VISTA leader. Here I was again: poor, working a hard job, and walking around in sub-zero temps.
Honestly, it was the best decision I ever made.
I had the opportunity to work with other VISTAs and help support them through their VISTA year. I met community members that have made Fairbanks a better place. I made friends that will last a lifetime. I worked at the University, the Borough building, had the opportunity to connect with other VISTAs in Anchorage and all around the state of Alaska. I was able to work with the Housing and Homeless Coalition, Access Alaska (where a huge part of my heart still exists), and now I work at the Girl Scout Council. I have the opportunity to volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club, the Ester Community Association, Bread Line, Angry Young and Poor, and other organizations.
Fairbanks has become a part of my soul. I owe my career and passions to the AmeriCorps VISTA program and to the community of Fairbanks. I hope that each and every one of you find your experience here as special as I have found mine.
Hydroponics in Anchorage and Racing to Build a Grow Tower
We headed out to Alaska Seeds of Change where we were met by Sara Renard, the AKSoC staff coordinator. We stopped to discuss the successes and challenges of both AKSoC and the project I am working on, the Fairbanks Urban Hydroponic Farm (FUHF), and offered each other advice on methods of best practice.
The next day started early as Mel and I headed over to the Z. J. Loussac Public Library to set up for the workshop. Our students for the day, all teachers by trade, arrived at nine and we got right into the hydroponics education. Mel took them through a PowerPoint to teach them all about gardening in the classroom, from soil fertilization to which types of seeds will grow best. Just before lunch we got up on our feet and explored different interactive stations, each with an easy classroom activity the teachers could do with their own students. Then after lunch, it was all hands on deck to build a seven foot tall hydroponic grow tower.
With power drills out and at the ready, instruction packets in hand, and disassembled buckets, pipes, and screws scattered around the floor we were given a challenge: build the tower in 1.5 hours, beat the previous workshop’s record and someone will get to take the grow tower home. With our deadline looming in the near future, we rushed into action, naturally splitting into groups to tackle different aspects of the tower. I got to work helping with the sump basin, which is the foundation of the tower and holds all the water.
Thank you to Love In the Name of Christ of the Tanana Valley for hosting our event, even though you had only recently moved into your location. Thank you to The Salvation Army - Fairbanks Corps for providing hot drinks, bottled water and snacks for our volunteers and donors.
Thank you to our 6 VISTAs who took ownership of this project, both pre-event and day-of. Thank you to our 3 volunteers from HOPE worldwide who came in and immediately started sorting before I could even host volunteer orientation.
Thank you to four personal friends who donated what time they had: Ellen Hughes for your encouragement, calming nature & my favorite coffee order, Sarah Seifert for bringing experience and setting an example for our new folks, Melissa Prince for tackling and wrapping up several smaller projects & Christine Charron for spur-of-the-moment deliveries.
95% of our requests were filled and some donations came all the way from Nenana!
Thank you to the 10 local non-profit agencies who participated and allowed us to serve them through this event. We appreciate the work you do in our community all year round.
Fairbanks Rescue Mission
The Rescue Mission requested clothing,
shoes & socks in all sizes
but were most excited about toiletries -
travel size toothpastes, shampoos, conditioners & lotions, deodorants, razors & toothbrushes.
We ended up making at least 4 separate runs
to FRM with donated goods.
When they reopen their clothing closet,
it will be stacked to the ceiling!
Interior Alaska Center
Fairbanks Reentry Coalition
The Reentry Coalition asked for
professional clothing as well as homegoods
for their clients reentering the community
We delivered at least four times to them as well! With all those clothes, it will be much easier for their employment specialists
to outfit their clients for job interviews.
Love INC of the Tanana Valley
Like last year, Love INC asked for furniture, in particular dressers & box springs. They also requested twin sheets, household cleaning supplies and reusable shopping bags.
We received a bit of furniture, sets of pots & pans & a bunch of reusable shopping bags, which Love INC families will use
when picking up their items.
See you next year!
AGENCY: ACCESS ALASKA
AGENCY: ALASKA COALITION ON HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
AGENCY: BOYS & GIRLS CLUB
AGENCY: BREAD LINE INC.
AGENCY: FBX HOUSING & HOMELESS COALITION
AGENCY: FBX NATIVE ASSOCIATION
AGENCY: FBX NORTH STAR LIBRARIES
AGENCY: FBX REENTRY COALITION
AGENCY: FBX RESCUE MISSION
AGENCY: FBX SOIL & WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT
AGENCY: FBX WELLNESS COALITION
AGENCY: FBX YOUTH ADVOCATES
AGENCY: INTERIOR ALASKA CENTER FOR NON-VIOLENT LIVING
AGENCY: JP JONES CENTER
AGENCY: LION'S DEN
AGENCY: LOVE INC
AGENCY: NORTH STAR COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
AGENCY: RESTORE INC
AGENCY: SALVATION ARMY
AGENCY: TANANA CHIEFS CONFERENCE
AGENCY: THE DOOR
AUTHOR: ASHTON VARNER
AUTHOR: KELSEY SNYDER
AUTHOR: LEAH SHAFFER
AUTHOR: MEAGAN SCHEER
AUTHOR: MIKE REIDERER
AUTHOR: VICKI SLOBODYANIK
AUTHOR: ZAK MITCHELL
EVENT: COMMUNITY NEEDS DRIVE
EVENT: IN-SERVICE TRAINING
FAIRBANKS DAILY NEWS MINER
IN THE NEWS
RADIO 970 KFBX
TOPIC: GRANT WRITING
YEAR LONG VISTA